Notorious gangster Bunty Pandey, who was deported from Vietnam in November, has told officers from the Mumbai crime branch that he broke away from underworld don, Chhota Rajan, because he had stopped trusting him.
Police sources said Pandey has told interrogators that Rajan’s refusal to help the family of an aide, who was killed in an encounter, was a “wake-up call” for him.
“The Mumbai crime branch killed three of our top shooters, Jaggu Shetty, Sushil Gaonkar and Pandya Salvi, in an encounter in Bangalore in 2003…Salvi’s wife was handicapped and he had saved
very little,” Pandey told the police.
Pandey said he and fellow gangsters, Santosh Shetty and Guru Satam, asked Rajan to help Salvi’s family financial.
“He refused to help the family. This was a wake up call for all of us,” Pandey told the police.
Police sources said Pandey told them concern for their families’ future prompted Shetty, Satam and him to break away from Rajan.
“It was not easy, but we had to take the risk because Rajan could no more be trusted,” Pandey told the police.
Pandey slipped into Nepal after he was granted bail in a theft case in Haldwani, Uttaranchal, in 1999.
Pandey shuttled between countries with a fake passport issued by the Tardeo Regional Passport Office in the name of Vijay Subhash Sharma.
“Nepal was a safe place for me. My best friend Rohit Verma’s wife belonged to Nepal and we had several safe houses there,” Pandey told the police. He also told the police that Rajan had several hideouts in Bangkok but was always on the move.
Pandey has also alleged that he assisted the Indian intelligence agencies in an operation against “a Dawood man”.
The police said they suspect Pandey was referring to the murder of Nepalese politician, Mirza Dilshad Baig. “When the Nepal police began their probe [in Baig’s murder], Farid [Tanasha] and I were taken to a safe house in New Delhi,” Pandey said.
Pandey told the police he rushed to Bangkok in September 2000 when Chhota Shakeel’s men attacked Rajan. “Santosh and Farid and I secured Rajan’s escape. We took Rajan to Cambodia and then to Tehran,” Pandey said.
“After Rajan recovered, we returned to Cambodia and he went to Singapore.”
Pandey said Shetty flew to Jakarta to join gangster Bharat Nepali. Pandey joined them later, he told the police.
“I could see Santosh’s influence in south-east Asia because of his money power that mainly came from narcotics,” Pandey told the police.
Police sources said Pandey told them he slipped into Vietnam to join his wife and daughter after breaking away from Rajan and lived a secluded life until his arrest in November.